(Series 20, ep. 11 ‘The L Word’ by Katie Douglas 13.3.18) Holby is nominated for a RTS Award for Best Soap/Continuing Drama this year (and high time too). When you see an episode like this, you have to think how could it not win? Indeed you have to think how come it isn’t in the Drama category too? With acting as nuanced and powerful as we had here from James Anderson, Guy Henry, Hermione Gulliford and others, and production values that equal anything you’d see in things like Line of Duty and Collateral… well, I could go on. I probably will go on, whether it wins or not. But for now, I’d better turn my attention back to this particular, very dramatic and rather intense episode.
Professor Gaskell (or “the Great and Powerful Oz,” as Sacha rather brilliantly referred to him) was thinking that Roxanna was getting a bit emotionally over-involved with Oliver Valentine’s case. He’s shrewdly spotted that unless she’s been in a car with Hanssen or eating pizza in the on-call room, she has at all times been by Ollie’s side, frowning at him encouragingly.
A crisis point to all this was reached when Ollie, after a session of his magnet therapy, remembered something. He and Roxanna were in love!
Roxanna badly needed some wise counsel to sort this out, so she went out to the car park and phoned Hanssen. I expected him to be just moments away and with his engine running, like a terribly suave Uber driver, but he was actually at home, in an actual house. Roxanna went there for the kind of Deep Chat that’s only possible with the friend whose son shot your colleague even though he was actually aiming for you and while you were saving your colleague your husband died on the operating table in the same room so you have to make sure your colleague/patient makes a full recovery otherwise There Is No Point. I’m quite pleased with myself for getting that entire situation into a single, albeit not very elegant, sentence.
Hanssen (who would never use an inelegant sentence) blames himself for what Fredrik did: “My son, my creation,” he said. “It was a message to me written in the blood of those I love.” It’s hard to argue with that assessment, though of course not every emotionally neglected child will grow up to be a gun-toting murderer. It’s that last bit that Hanssen still has to realise.
Back at the hospital, Ollie remembered that it wasn’t Roxanna he’d been in love with, but Zosia. He asked Dominic to tell him about her, which was sweet and sad at the same time.
Then Roxanna took Ollie to the operating theatre where he was shot, and this was an incredibly emotional and intense scene between two actors who work very well together. Roxanna told Ollie he was selfless, kind and brave for taking the bullet meant for her. Wow. No wonder she feels she owes him a recovery. And her voice-over as she rehearsed her speech for David’s memorial was really sad. I really do love Hermione Gulliford’s work on Holby.
We needed something uplifting after all that, and rather unusually it arrived wrapped up in a plot about a woman facing the end of her life and making it known that she didn’t wish to be resuscitated if and when things went very bad. The woman was the truly wonderful Sheilagh Chiltern (Wanda Ventham), and in her spirited hands the story ended up being more about life than it was about death (and the good news was that the death of Sheilagh Chiltern is not happening any time soon).
And Dominic told Lofty he loves him. Lofty isn’t ready to say it back yet, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel it. He’s just isn’t a person to fling that kind of concept around without being 100% sure.
On AAU, the quest to prove Ric’s innocence continued, and a breakthrough was achieved when Amira (Poppy Jhakra) was tracked down and summoned to the hospital. “She’s a nurse. Tell her she’s owed money. That’ll get her down here,” Donna told Fletch – and it worked. Eventually, after a lot of persuasion from Donna, Amira agreed to appear in court to explain her view of what went on the day Mrs Warren died.
Elsewhere in AAU, patient o’ the week Raymond (Martin Behrman) was a model – of sausages and electric blankets. Best not to even ask. He was one of these tricky diagnosis cases, but when Zav made the tricky diagnosis he let Nicky take the credit for it and Serena was pleased and said she could write it up for a medical journal. Then Nicky discovered that Zav had already had an article published about that very same subject, so nobody was going to be getting excited about another one from Nicky. WTF, she quite rightly wanted to know. Zav told her she needs to stay sharp and toughen up. Is this what’s known as tough love? Or just being a twonk?
“I think being terrified about it is a good sign because it means I care and I want to do it justice.” Read more about how James Anderson approached this storyline, and lots more, in Holby City: Behind the Screen. Available from Amazon, Silverwood Books, Book Depository and to order from any bookshop. There are also some copies signed by me on eBay.